Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
If you speak positive words over yourself, will you begin to believe them? Does what we say make us more positive or do our words come from a deeper place that cannot be changed by mere words? People who speak words of affirmations over themselves believe if they speak them enough, they will end up changing their own minds. Declarations are when people speak words in order to take possession or control over something. Shanda talks about the power of our words using affirmations and declarations. If you need a little more positivity in your life, Shanda will give you some advice on where the true power of our words comes from and the words you should rely on to better yourself.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and tackle them with Biblical truth. I have a great episode for you today and as promised, we are talking about affirmations and the word of the year. I know you are just as eager as I am to discuss these things, but I do have a few reminders before we dive in.
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Ok, so in episode 163, I told you that we would talk about slogans, mantras, and words of affirmation, and that is what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk about:
- The meaning of words. I know that might seem basic, but I think it’s a good foundational place to begin.
- What are affirmations and should Christians get involved in speaking them over ourselves, even if they’re Biblical?
- What’s with the word of the year trend and should you join in?
I want to start off by talking about the meaning of words because I want to establish the foundation of what it is we’re discussing when we talk about affirmations, and choosing the word of the year.
What it boils down to is the words we choose.
That’s really important because words have meaning. They are purposeful. We live in a culture that changes how you think by changing the definition or meaning of words. It’s strategic because as basic as it sounds, it is very true that words have meaning.
At a basic level of explanation, a lot of the English words we use today come from Greek and Latin. For example, do you remember learning about root words when you were a kid. Like, the word painting uses the root word paint and by adding the suffix ing, you know someone is painting in the present. That’s because prefixes and suffixes help with the meaning as well. I won’t bore you with more examples, but my point is that words have meaning and really, that’s where the power of the words come from.
It’s not that words themselves have power as in magic or strength because we use them.
They have power depending on how we use them and what I mean is that words have meaning and so we should be purposeful with them knowing that life and death are in the power of the tongue.
So let’s examine Proverbs 18:21 which says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” This is why many Christians believe they can speak things into existence by making declarations and affirmations. But my question to them is, “Is it because your words have power in and of themselves or is it because your words have meaning?”
The tongue (or our words) have spiritual, physical, and emotional implications and that’s what this means by life and death are in the power of the tongue.
The spiritual implications are not necessarily in regard to the one hearing your words, but for the one speaking the words because they reveal what is in the heart. Jesus told His disciples it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth that defies a man because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Mark 7:18-20)
Jesus also said that we will give an account for every idle word we speak. Now, remember when I told you words have meaning and therefore must be purposeful? This is why. God wants us to be careful with out words because we will give an account of them, and honestly, that scares me. I don’t want to be held accountable for every idle word I’ve spoken. And idle means empty or purposeless.
Physical death: words can cause people to hate and act on that hatred.
Now, I like to be careful here because people seem to use hate as a word for anything you don’t agree with makes you a hater. That’s not true. But words can cause people to act on their hatred and murder others. We see this on Dateline shows all the time. People usually play voicemail recordings of people screaming at each other during a trial where one of those people are on trial for murder.
Emotional death: if you can encourage others with words, you can also discourage others with words. It goes both ways.
But isn’t the power once again, in the meaning of the word and not in the word itself?
For example, if I told my kids this morning when they woke up tired and not wanting to go to school, “Hey! Today’s going to be a great day. You got this!” They would face the day a lot easier. But if I said, “You know what, you’re right. It’s cold outside and you’re probably going to have a really crappy day” they’d probably have a lot more difficult time facing the day. It’s not that my words in themselves held some sort of magical power. What it’s really about is that my words have meaning and deepening on how they’re put together shows how they can encourage or discourage others.
So, I hope that helps make sense of the fact that words were derived strategically and with meaning. That is why your English teacher spent so much time teaching you root words, and how the root changes with prefixes and suffixes so that you better understood them and knew how to use them. Words have purpose and are meant to be used correctly.
What are affirmations and should Christians get involved in speaking them over ourselves, even if they’re Biblical?
So what is an affirmation? Simply put, you are talking to yourself in a positive way. One site explains it as short phrases you can repeat to change the way you think and feel about yourself. Jennifer Lopez tweeted that she speaks to herself by saying, “I am whole, I am good on my own, I love myself.” But then she married Ben Afleck, so maybe she wasn’t that good on her own, but who knows.
Michelle Obama said, “Am I good enough? Yes, I am.” The goal is to change negative thoughts and therefore change negative behavior patterns. That means these people do not feel like they’re enough and they do not feel whole and really, they shouldn’t without Christ. And no affirmation is going to change that reality because that is a spiritual state that can only be changed with Christ.
The goal for people who speak affirmations is that they change their though patterns.
Because how we speak, think, and act are all correlated. However, Romans 12:2 tells to be transformed by the renewing of our minds which means the mind is changed and everything else follows. And in the word, mind and heart are interchangeable so that means the heart and mind are transformed as we are in the word and as the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.
Now, what we really want to know is does this really work? Do affirmations really change the way you think which in turn changes your behavior? According to this article there isn’t a lot of research on affirmations and I’m not sure how reliable it would be. I know a lot of motivational speakers tell people to use affirmations but a better question for Christians is, does the Bible tell us to use affirmations to change the way we think? We’ll get to it soon.
Before we do, I want to talk about making declaration.
Simply said, a declaration is making a statement that something is true. Again, a lot of people say words have power and when you talk about the word of faith movement, they will talk about how you can speak things into existence by claiming it is true. I’ve followed a woman on social media who calls herself a life speaker, and although I don’t disagree that we can speak life into people’s lives, we have to establish what that means. She speaks things over her followers and encourages them to speak the power they have within them because God is in them, but here we are back to we have the power or our words have the power. Where does the power come from?
Only God has power.
He is an infinite being. We have the Holy Spirit at work in us, but we do not get to declare things into existence just because the Holy Spirit abides in a believer. Word have their power because they have meaning, not because they are powerful. So this woman speaks declarations to her followers. I don’t have an issue with some of her message, I have an issue with her overall message. Why? For a few reasons. I think it’s best to give you examples of her posts so you can get an idea of what I mean.
“Everything you went through, God is about to use for your breakthrough.” Classic message. You can get this from any prosperity gospel preacher. But the thing is, there is evil experienced because we live in the world, like natural disasters, or the sins of others, or sickness and disease.
And it’s true that God can use those things for our good, like romans 8:28 says.
But what’s dangerous about declaring this over people you don’t know is that they might be experiencing the consequences of their own sin. And unless they repent and allow God to redeem them, how can God use that for their breakthrough? I literally loathe and despise these types of messages. They have no depth. They are not peaking life.
“God is saying … for 2023, think big.” Is God saying that? Does God always work in the BIG ways? I had a friend text me today and say her chickens have been in the coop for over 6 months and they haven’ laid any eggs. She was getting tired of feeding them and she prayed that God would just help them to start laying eggs already. That morning the chicken started squaking and it laid a pretty blue egg. She sent me a picture and I was like, that egg is too pretty to eat. But she said it reminded her that God cares about the little things too.
So I think God wants us to remember that He is also a God of little things, not just big things.
“Things don’t change when we talk to God. Things change when God talks to us.” Is that scriptural? James said you don’t have because you don’t ask. Prayer shows faith and trust on our part and prayer moves God toward action. Things change in both situations – when we talk to god and when God talks to us.
“God’s best is waiting for me in 2023.” God doesn’t change. His best was waiting for you in 2022 too. And in 2021. His best is Jesus on a cross, and salvation and relationship with Christ is always available. So this is just another garbage message. To just throw out blanket “declarations” means nothing. It’s no different than Kenneth Copeland thinking he can tell Covid to go away. I don’t know why these people think their words have power.
The bible doesn’t tell us any of that.
Also, if you want to use the faith claim that if you have enough faith you can make something happen, that’s not scriptural. Our faith moves God to action, it does not give us the power to make things happen as far as speaking things into existence.
Now, are there things in the Bible some might call affirmations that are true that are geared toward getting our minds on the right things? Sure. Like, those who are in Christ have been given the right to be called children of God. So to say, “I am a child of God” is a great reminder and is true to those in Christ. We see this in John 1.
If you’re going through a tough time, like a trial, and you say, “Romans 8:28 tells me God is going to work this for my good” that is a good reminder to help you endure through the hard.
And those are things that affirm our faith and in turn boost our confidence in the Lord and who we are in Him.
In fact, I’ve reminded my boys of God’s truths many times. But I am not declaring something for them that is generic like, ‘God has something for you that is BIG. You just need to grab hold of it.” What does that even mean. Instead, I tell my boys they are strong men of God. That God has placed on them a responsibility to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves and to have integrity and walk in wisdom. But we see those things in Scripture – in Proverbs – and we know that is the will of God. I am not declaring generic, feel good statements that really have no substance. I am speaking truth over them that comes directly from God’s word that has depth, and that is instructive, and that will help them remember their purpose in life as men who follow the Lord.
When we are afraid, there is nothing wrong with saying out loud, “God has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity, but has given me power, love, and a self-discipline.”
I know of people I love and respect who speak affirmations over themselves.
I personally don’t like it because I don’t believe it when it comes from me. The truth is, I want to grab hold of something that I know God says about me so I know it is anchored in truth.
And if we’re talking about a mind-shift to think positive, what we have to remember, again, is Romans 12;2. The mind must be transformed. The Bible talks a lot about what to think about and I do not see any correlation with changing out thought patterns with what we verbally speak. In fact, what we speak shows our thought patterns, not the other way around. So if you are negative, it is likely that you think negative thoughts. If you think poorly about yourself, you likely put yourself down. To reverse that by saying, “I’ll change my thought patterns by speaking positive things out loud,” I think that’s not going to be as effective.
I believe you have to know the word in order to think like God and that means you’ll change the way you speak once you do.
Finally, what’s with the word of the year and should you join in?
So on my episode 163 I said something kind of negative about the word of the year, and I don’t want to get down on it. If you have a word of the year, I want to challenge you to ground it in the word of God. Maybe you do already. Great! But when I used to choose my word of the year, and I only did it once, I didn’t. I just chose a word and I can’t even remember what it is to be honest – that goes to show how much though I put into it.
If you don’t know what this is, it’s where ladies (or mostly ladies I’ve seen) choose a word for the year and they focus on that word. My friend, Adriana, whom I’ve had on the podcast before, she and I talked about it and she has a word for the year and it’s really good. She also rooted it in Scripture and she wants to be more diligent in reading, studying and seeking the Lord this year and doesn’t want to allow anything to get in her way.
I think that works.
I mean, it’s kind of like setting a spiritual goal and then rooting in in Scripture. For me, I have to write a lot this year. I am also going to try and bust out a new course of my own while co-writing another kids course with Dr. Frank Turek, and that’s a lot. That’s besides my podcast hosting and all of that. My favorite verse in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 and it says, “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
I don’t want to get so wrapped up into writing, creating, and speaking about God that I don’t spend time with Him.
So I started getting up at 5:30 every morning and for two hours I get ready, read my bible reading, write in my prayer journal, and study a book on worldview, and I put the Lord first. It’s only been two weeks, I get tired, but I don’t want to disqualify myself so I endure through the tired, and the hard. So my spiritual goal is to endure through the tired, through the writing process, through the frustration of constructive criticism and not get easily offended, so that the kingdom of God can expand.
If you choose a word for the year, be very intentional about it and instead of choosing a random word, make it a spiritual goal that you take to the Lord in prayer.
Otherwise, it’s just a word and what’s the point?
Words have definitions and meaning, and that’s what makes them powerful. Not the fact that you declared a word for the year. That’s just a trend – it’s not a goal.
To close up today’s episode, I want to remind you that God is the powerful one in our lives and His word is powerful. When we hold onto it, remember it, write it on the tablets of our hearts – and that means that we live by it and love its truths – it makes a difference in our lives. His word never returns void. It doesn’t fall to the ground. That’s the word I want living in my heart, my mind, and displayed through my actions.
We can make affirmations, declarations, and join in on the one-word trends all the day long.
But if those words are not rooted in truth, they are void. Our words have the power of life and death, and God wants us to use them for good and with purpose.
If we are to truly give an account for every idle word we speak (and I dare say tweet, post, and upload to YouTube), then God help us all be more careful and aware of how we use them.
I hope this episode encouraged you. I’ll be back next week to for a discussion with Elizabeth Urbanowitz from Foundation Worldview, and then in episode 167, I will discuss whether or not Christians are closed-minded and why free thinking is just foolish. If you have any questions for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll catch you on the next one.